REVIEW: Warlock In Training, By TJ Nichols

Title:Warlock in Training
Series:Studies in Demonology Book 1
Author:TJ Nichols
Genre:Fantasy
LGBTQ+ Category:gay
Publisher:DSP Publications
Pages/Word Count:226 pages
Buy Link:$1.99 on Amazon
Reviewer: Dan

About the Book

Angus Donohue doesn’t want to be a warlock. He believes draining demons for magic is evil, but it’s a dangerous opinion to have—his father is a powerful and well-connected warlock, and Angus is expected to follow the family tradition.

His only way out is to fail the demon summoning class. Failure means expulsion from the Warlock College. Despite Angus’s best efforts to fumble the summoning, it works. Although not the way anyone expects.

Angus’s demon, Saka, is a powerful mage with his own need for a warlock.

Saka wants to use Angus in a ritual to rebalance the magic that is being stripped from Demonside by warlocks. If Angus survives his demon’s desires and the perils of Demonside, he’ll have to face the Warlock College and their demands.

Angus must choose: obey the College and forget about Demonside or trust Saka and try to fix the damage before it’s too late. Whatever he does, he is in the middle of a war he isn’t qualified to fight.

The Review

Warlock in Trainingand I had a little bit of a weird start. I initially started reading the third in the series without knowing it was part of a larger story, so even though I liked the writing, I couldn’t get a good feel for the book. Now that I’ve read the first installment of the series, I can safely say I liked it and will be tuning in for the sequels. 

I had fun with this book. The writing style is easy to digest and usually makes it clear as to what’s going on. There were a few points where the exposition became a little repetitive, but it wasn’t enough to actively turn me off from the book.

The characters in this book worked well together and I’m excited to see how they grow as the series continues. From the first chapter to the last, Angus and Saka work their influence on each other without being controlling or overbearing. It’s nice to see the balance between the two of them and the mutual effort they put into their relationship, whatever it actually is, and into saving the world. Both men take risks and make sacrifices, in their own way, and their personalities play off each other well.

Their arc easily could have fallen into a tired enemies-to-lovers trope laden with vitriol and quasi-abuse. Despite their vastly different cultures and backgrounds, Saka and Angus both endeavor to treat each other with respect and caring. I can’t express how much I appreciated a departure from the usual tropes with these two.

The magic and demons of Warlock in Trainingaren’t particularly complicated, but they are rather unique from standard paranormal fare (as far as I’ve read, anyway). Without giving too much away, I have to say I enjoyed the plot and the conspiracy embroiled within it. It reaches deeper than Angus ever knew but also strikes incredibly close to home for him.

With Angus, Nichol’s gives us a character I think a lot of young adult readers could connect with easily. He starts out wanting to live his own life without magic or his father’s expectations. He comes to realize that he can’t live with complacency and by keeping his head down. He grows a lot in a short time, but it isn’t easy for him. Growth is supposed to be rewarding, but Angus shows us that it’s also hard and exhausting, and sometimes the reward feels scant.

This book has a lot of sex scenes and some of them might be a little concerning for those who aren’t used to reading beyond vanilla sex (spoiler: knives and orgies show up). But I like the way that sex, love, relationships, and obligation are all played with and discussed in the book. I like that Angus and Saka talk about it the most. I’d definitely recommend this for fans of urban fantasy.

About Dan: Dan Ackerman is a writer and educator who has lived in Connecticut for their entire life. They received their BSED from CCSU in 2013 and wrote their Master’s thesis on representations of women in same-sex relationships in contemporary Spanish literature and cinema. Currently, Dan is studying for a second MA in ABA and works in a center school for students with a variety of intellectual, developmental, or multiple disabilities. In their spare time, Dan continues to read and write, supplemented with a healthy amount of movie marathons and gaming.

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